Skip Marley Is Breathing New Life Into His Family's Music

Nine Miles, Jamaica.
Nine Miles, Jamaica.
Photo by Melissa Espinoza

From a little place in the steep, green hills of Jamaica known as Nine Miles, music was changed forever. People here live off the land and trap drinking water from their roofs. Nesta Robert Marley is from here. You may know him better as Bob Marley, the Jamaican reggae star who would forever change the way people looked at his native island. Marley's friend and Wailers Artistic Director Neville Garick said it best: “Most of these artists today are not stars, they’re comets. They shine in the sky for a moment and go away. Bob was a star. He shines in the sky forever.” 

Marley's mother was raised in Nine Miles too. Cedella Marley Booker cooked and cleaned for others to buy him shoes and clothes. She recorded a gospel album and her sisters also sang in the church. Today, Cedella, Bob’s grandparents on his mother’s side, and his brother Anthony are all buried there. From this rustic and secluded place, a multi-generational movement of music was born and will be forever adored.

Miami's upcoming 9 Mile Music Festival was named for the Village of Nine Miles. It was Cedella’s wish to remember her son every year with music and charity – so the 9 Mile Music Festival was started in 1993. Since its inception, the Festival has donated over three million canned goods to Miami shelters. The concert's 23rd installment is taking place on Saturday, February 27, at Historic Virginia Key Beach Park in Miami.

The view from Nine Miles.
The view from Nine Miles.
Photo by Melissa Espinoza

It’s rare for offspring to match or even come close to their famous parent’s genius – but the Marley’s pull it off. Their family tree is ripe with talent. Stephen, Damian, and Julian Marley on stage together is one of music’s great gatherings. They perform their own music and wrap up the set with Bob Marley’s greatest hits. Also on the lineup are Nas, K Camp, Capleton, Konshens, Mr. Cheeks, Protoje, Kabaka Pyramid, Skip Marley and Styleon. 

Skip Marley, the son of Bob Marley's daughter, is the latest talent in a lineage of Marley’s. He was born in Jamiaca, lives in Miami, and says home is wherever the road takes him. He played the Dubwise Miami event at Coyo Taco on December 23, and remembers that “the energy was great at Coyo that night, and the Dubwise event has a nice crowd, but I’m really looking forward to performing with my uncles at the Nine Mile Music Festival. I am looking forward to seeing Nas — he is one of my favorite artists ever.” Last August Skip played the Bob Marley’s Roots Rock Reggae, A 70th Birthday Celebration with his uncles Ziggy and Stephen Marley at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. 

Skip Marley is updating the Marley sound.
Skip Marley is updating the Marley sound.
Photo by Lee Abel

“Wow what a night," he says. "The Bowl is such a special venue for performing and the talent that has graced that stage is overwhelming.”

Skip isn't your typical Marley. His sound is one that deviates from the reggae norm, reinvigorating his family’s anthems. He has worked with Ricky Mears on a future bass remix of “Three Little Birds” and a remix of his original, “Cry to Me.”

“I like all genres of music. Anything from electronic music, downtempo, and experimental, to some dub and house. I follow everything Diplo and Major Lazer put out. They are producing amazing Caribbean-inspired beats. I am in the studio now working on new music."

The all-day Nine Mile Festival will have no shortage of diversity either, with a holistic village, drum circle on the beach, yoga, massage, acupuncture and sound healing from a didgeridoo ensemble. Its food village will offer flavors of Jamaica and the Caribbean. 

71 years later, Marley still means so much to so many. 

Nine Mile Music Festival with Stephen Marley, Damian Marley, Nas, and more. Saturday, March 27, at Virginia Key Beach Park, 4020 Virginia Beach Dr., Key Biscayne. Tickets cost $50 to $177 via 9milemusicfestival.com.


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